Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Curriculum for Excellence in the Recovery Phase

Last updated: 18 Jun 2021 - see all updates
Published: 5 Jun 2020

Guidance to support teachers and other professional practitioners in preparing their curriculum offer for and during the Recovery Phase.

5 Jun 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Curriculum for Excellence in the Recovery Phase

Scotland’s curriculum – Curriculum for Excellence – helps our children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century. While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, our curriculum framework continues to apply. The core principles of Scotland’s curriculum and the four fundamental capacities at its centre remain critical in putting learners at the heart of education.

Scotland’s curriculum provides a high degree of flexibility, empowering individual settings and practitioners to make the decisions needed to provide a curriculum that is adaptable and responsive to the diverse needs of individual learners and reflecting the unique nature of their communities. This flexibility will be vital during the Recovery Phase when learners are in school, and should blended learning approaches be required for learners at any point.

Excellence and Equity During the COVID-19 Pandemic was published on 21 May 2020, providing a strategic framework for reopening schools, early and childcare provision in Scotland. It was developed by the Scottish Government and local government with support from key partners across the education system. A range of guidance has been published to complement the framework.

The following advice has been prepared by Education Recovery Group partners to support teachers and other professional practitioners in preparing their curriculum offer for and during the Recovery Phase. It provides high level national guidance and clarity on the broad expectations for what Scotland’s curriculum looks like during the Recovery Phase in the ELC and school sectors, including through Gaelic Medium Education.

As per prior to Covid-19, the curriculum will be developed locally by Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings, primary and secondary schools and partnership colleges, taking account of the local circumstances of children and their families.  Early learning and childcare providers, schools, local authorities and colleges will want to consider the most effective ways to deliver a broad curriculum for children and young people in a safe and proportionate manner, as well as the safe delivery of practical and physical activities.

During the recovery phase, ELC, primary and secondary teachers and practitioners should consider the following key points:

  • setting out a clear statement of intent to deliver a broad and meaningful curriculum and to prioritise the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, practitioners and families.
  • recognition that good health and wellbeing is fundamental to ensuring that children and young people can engage effectively in their learning.
  • using the Refreshed Narrative for Curriculum for Excellence as a practical tool to support a curriculum rationale for the Broad General Education (BGE) and senior phase in the Recovery Phase, with an early focus on reconnection in the initial stage of returning to school. Periodic review of the curriculum rationale during the Recovery Phase will help to ensure the curriculum is shaped locally and takes account of children and their families’ circumstances. Arrangements can be maximised for use of facilities and resources in schools, partner centres and local areas across local authorities.
  • maximising opportunities for communications and dialogue with children, young people and their families and continuing to build relationships and resilience. Benefits of play and outdoor learning will be factored into learning plans - including opportunities for learners to be physically active, to enjoy and learn about their natural environment, and to relax.
  • ensuring regular contact for children and young people with a key adult from their usual place of learning who knows them well, to talk about their wellbeing; to share experiences during lockdown, including successes and challenges; to offer compassion and individual support as required; and to support engagement with learning.
  • ensuring regular access for learners to high quality activities through working with teachers and practitioners in educational settings and remote learning at home, where that may be required, in line with the curriculum to reflect local circumstances.
  • engaging with partners, for example in youth work, outdoor education, culture and sport who may be able to enrich the offer available for children and young people outside school hours. And also to engage with their parent councils and forums to utilise the skills and experience of the parent community in supporting learning.
  • taking appropriate steps to develop breadth, depth and meaning and to cover all areas of learning in the curriculum whilst maintaining a focus on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Cross curricular linked themes can help learners’ experiences and activities across the BGE and senior phase. All curricular areas can provide a context for health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy as well as subject content and skills.  In all instance, practitioners will want to take a proportionate approach as they develop and deliver a curriculum that best meets the needs of their learners.  In some instances, it may be appropriate to make literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing the focus of the curriculum initially with learning progressively broadening out to take in wider aspects and all four contexts of learning. 
  • focusing on promoting and developing skills that will help equip children and young people them for the uncertainties of the future, including their ability to learn remotely, should remote learning need to be re-introduced.
  • Supporting children and young people through a variety of approaches to demonstrate their learning, skills, knowledge and understanding across the curriculum, e.g. through discussions, writing, reflection, observation and practical activities. Evidence should be collected in a sensitive way that does not include potentially stressful approaches to assessment. Formal tests may not be the most appropriate approach to assessment during the early Recovery Phase.
  • working with learners and their families in drawing together evidence of learning to begin to determine children’s achievements together with their next steps in learning. The moderation cycle should be a helpful process to follow.
  • recognising that children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds may have faced multiple barriers to learning over the period of the school closures. Applying the principle of equity, consider how to provide additional and appropriate support where it is most needed in order to maximise engagement with learning and continue the work to close the poverty related attainment gap.


Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 5 Jun 2020 Last updated: 18 Jun 2021 -